Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Righteous Noah

When God warned Noah that he would send a flood to destroy the earth in the judgment of its wickedness, Noah believed God. Four times in this account it says, “Noah did everything just as God commanded him” (Gen 6:22).

He built the ark according to God’s specifications. It was a monster of a ship—1 ½ football fields in length. How many trees had to be felled, cut in lumber, and fitted into place? All this without tractors, modern saws, and cranes. What a feat of construction! What an effort of faith! During more than a century of monumental building, Noah was also preaching to the people in his world. Peter makes this comment about Noah, “… if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;” (2 Pet 2:5). Noah, though surrounded by corruption, stood alone and stood faithful to God.

What sustained Noah during these 100 years of labor and ministry? God promised to save him and his family. Noah totally grasped God’s promise and believed it with all his heart. This is what it means to walk with God day after day.

The righteous always live by faith, whether it is in Noah’s day or in our day. Faith is living out your faith in your home, work, or neighborhood by standing on God’s promises. It is still possible to be righteous today because this righteousness comes from God and is not self-made.

The writer of Hebrews sums up Noah’s life with these words: “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Heb 11:7).

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Pathology of the Family

Human depravity is the downward spiral of human thought and behavior. From the evidence, it doesn’t appear that we are getting better. Moses wrote, “The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time (Gen 6:5). His words are emphatic that the collective human heart had reached a place of total depravity.

Is there not similarity to our world today? There is an obsession with sexuality because inappropriate sexual acts are seen on major networks at all times of day or night. Talk shows introduce the most appalling and vulgar subjects with no reservations. Dignity and decorum have vanished in our culture. Profanity is used everywhere, including by parents in front of their children.

When we have mass shootings by troubled teens, we quickly learn the context. Their human connections had broken down; they witnessed failed marriages, lived in broken homes, and idolized violence. Violence is revered everywhere, in movies, videos, games, and it is only a matter of time until some troubled individual tries to copy what he has seen.  Our world is more like Noah’s world than we imagine. The world in Noah’s day was influenced and controlled by spiritual forces, and so is our world. Paul stated it this way, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12).

When you have heard the pathology of today’s family, and it is filled with sorrow, pain, anguish, and bitterness, you feel sadness. When a little boy is bounced back and forth from mom to dad and given medicine so he can calm down, your heart aches for him. When a small child cries and believes it is her fault that her mom and dad have gone their separate ways, you want to cry. When a father who is supposed to love his daughter, sexually abuses her, you feel disgusted. When a mother who is supposed to nurture her infant abandons him, you feel repulsed. When you see an anxious child living in a home fraught with conflict, your heart breaks. When a teenager who is so woefully unprepared for life falls into the clutches of addiction, you cringe. We wonder what’s wrong with our world, but if we looked at what’s wrong with our homes, we would find the answer.

This kind of assessment of our world is discouraging if we did not realize that wherever there is great sin, there is greater grace. In that godless and distorted world, we read these words about Noah, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen 6:8). Noah was a sinner like all the rest of us, but he realized it, and he asked God for forgiveness and received grace. The grace way is the only safe way to live in our world. It is possible to walk with God today the way Noah did because God gives us his grace. We need his help in our marriages, our families, and our work. Our only hope is in God's grace.